India Will Become Nazi State If Press Is Gagged; It’s The Duty Of Constitutional Court To Resist Such Attempts By Mighty State: Madras HC [Read Order]
“If the voice of the fourth estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain.”
If the voice of the fourth estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State, remarked Justice PN Prakash of Madras High Court while quashing a defamation complaint against India Today Tamil Weekly.
The high court quashed the complaint lodged in 2012 by the public prosecutor alleging that the article published in the Tamil weekly edition of India Today defamed then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa. The article discussed the gaining of influence by Sasikala in the party affairs and removal of Sengottaiyan from the party and ministership.
The court observed that there is not even an iota of material to show that there is any imputation intending to harm the reputation of the then Chief Minister.
The judge then emphasized the role of press in a democratic society and said India would become a Nazi State if the voice of the fourth estate is stifled. The judge also observed that some occasional transgressions by the press were aberrations which deserve to be ignored in the larger interest of sustaining democracy.
The judge said: “Be it noted that the Press has got a solemn duty to place all the concatenation of events, both recent past and distant past, concerning political parties and public figures, for public consumption and for refreshing the otherwise short public memory. For doing this, if the Press is gagged, democracy in this country will be in utter peril. India is a vibrant democracy and the fourth estate is indubitably an indispensable part of it. If the voice of the fourth estate is stifled in this manner, India will become a Nazi State and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain. There may be some occasional transgressions by the Press; however, in the larger interest of sustaining democracy, those aberrations deserve to be ignored.”
The judge also reproduced the observations made by the high court in R. Rajagopal @ R.R. Gopal @ Nakkheeran Gopal and another vs. J. Jayalalithaa, that in a free democratic society, those who hold office in government and who are responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism.
The judge observed: “Nobody is invited with platters for coming into public life. Therefore, after voluntarily coming into public life, one cannot be heard to feign sensitiveness and trample the Press for no good reason. This Constitutional Court will be failing in its duty if such attempts by the mighty State are not resisted.”Read the Order Here